Harwell joins in backing special session to boot Durham

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s Republican House speaker says she now supports convening a special session to expel a state lawmaker accused of sexually harassing at least 22 women.

Democrats this week called for the special session in order to deny Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham a pension of more than $300 per month even if he’s not re-elected this year.

Speaker Beth Harwell initially opposed that call on the basis of cost, but said Thursday that she changed her mind after speaking with House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and Republican Caucus Chairman Gled Casada. She urged Durham to resign to save taxpayer money.

Durham suspended his re-election campaign earlier this month after a state attorney general’s office released a report containing numerous allegations of sexual harassment. The lawmaker has denied nearly all of the allegations.

Further from The Tennessean:
“I have spoken with Leader McCormick and Chairman Casada, and I am supportive of their effort to call a special session. While it is up to the voters of 65th District to determine whether Rep. Durham is on the ballot in November, it is up to the members of the Tennessee General Assembly to determine whether he should be expelled, which would ensure he does not receive retirement benefits,” said Harwell, in an email statement to The Tennessean.

Pensions begin at age 55 and are based on lawmakers’ years of service with a cap of 90 percent of their final salary, which is currently set at $20,884 annually. The current monthly rate per year is $86.06 so Durham would receive $344.24 per month, or $4,130.88 per year, according to rates provided by Connie Ridley, the director of Legislative Administration.

Note: Previous post HERE.